WASHINGTON – Ron Middlebrooks, a former senior executive with the U.S. Postal Service, was sentenced today to two years of incarceration on a bribery charge stemming from his acceptance of $15,000 in cash from a businessman he promised to reward with government contracts, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Unbeknownst to Middlebrooks, the businessman was working with law enforcement.
Middlebrooks, 47, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, pled guilty in August 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to receipt of a bribe by a public official. The Honorable James E. Boasberg sentenced him today. Upon completion of his prison term, Middlebrooks will be placed on two years of supervised release. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to resign from the Postal Service.
“This defendant was caught red-handed shaking down a government contractor for bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “He used his position of government trust for personal gain, but his corruption was exposed by an ethical contractor and dedicated federal agents. This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to holding accountable those who would seek to sell out the public trust for personal gain.”
According to a statement of facts submitted to the Court, Middlebrooks was the Postal Service’s director of International Civilian and Military Transportation and Networks, a senior executive position that was based in Washington, D.C. His official duties included managing international networks for civilian and military mail, including logistics contracts for all classes of mail worldwide. He also was responsible for developing and implementing contingency plans to ensure that disruptions of global civilian, military, and/or international mail operations were resolved quickly and effectively, including during times of war.
In November 2010, Middlebrooks met with an executive for a business identified in the court filings as Company A, a freight shipping airline with government contracts with the U.S. Postal Service. He told the executive that he wanted Company A to buy two real estate properties from him, which he owned personally. In exchange, Middlebrooks would provide the company with increased business transporting mail for the Postal Service.
The executive contacted Middlebrooks for a follow-up meeting. Unbeknownst to Middlebrooks, however, the executive was cooperating with law enforcement. On two occasions, on Dec. 13, 2010 and then again on Jan. 5, 2011, Middlebrooks accepted money from the executive with the understanding that he would reward Company A with business. Both times, the men discussed plans for Company A to purchase Middlebrooks’s real estate properties.
During the first meeting, the defendant accepted an envelope containing $10,000 in cash. Following this meeting, Middlebrooks directed that Company A receive an emergency contract to ship international mail that needed to be shipped on short notice.
In December 2010 and early January 2011, Middlebrooks and the executive had several telephone conversations discussing how Middlebrooks would increase the company’s business with the Postal Service in exchange for the company purchasing his properties at an above-market value price that he had set.
During the second meeting, Middlebrooks accepted an envelope containing $5,000 in cash. During that meeting, Middlebrooks told the executive, “you’re gonna be sure as hell glad you met me” because he intended to follow up and increase Company A’s business.
Authorities recovered $13,400 from Middlebrooks after his arrest, and he subsequently paid back the other $1,600 that he took in the scheme.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen thanked those who worked on the case from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General, including Sheila Brock and Samuel Simpkins. He also commended the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Sroka, who assisted with asset forfeiture, Paralegal Shanna Hays, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Haray, who prosecuted the case.